By Jim Thomas

Tribune News Service

The Rams were so very close to the elusive .500 mark for much of Thursday evening, not to mention a third straight victory.

But in a game of field goals, without a touchdown scored by either team, the NFC West-leading Arizona Cardinals held on for a 12-6 victory at the Edward Jones Dome.

Currently the No. 1 seed in the NFC, the Cardinals improved to 11-3 after sweeping the season series against the Rams. Meanwhile, the Rams fell to 6-8. They can still avoid a losing record if they win their final two games -- at home against the New York Giants and at Seattle.

But for the 11th consecutive season, dating back to the 2003 season, the Rams will not have a winning season.

On this day, Arizona blocked a little bit better, ran the ball better, and even rushed the passer better than the Rams.

The Rams still can lay claim to holding the opposition without a touchdown for the third game in a row, but that probably just added to the bitterness of a hard-fought loss.

"You look at this game and it's gonna be one of those games at the end of the season where you're gonna probably say you should've won," defensive end William Hayes said. "And we've had a number of those games this year."

The frustration was just as high on the offensive side, where the Rams couldn't establish the run and couldn't get consistent enough blocking to mount much of a sustained passing attack.

"We got outplayed, we got out-coached, and we just put a bad display out there," tight end Jared Cook said.

When asked to elaborate on what he meant by being "out-coached," Cook replied: "Not really. It's pretty self-explanatory. We got outplayed and out-coached. All we put up was six points and didn't get in the (end zone) not once tonight."